Sometimes it’s not easy to do.
Let’s face it, most parts of the world are pretty crappy places, most of the time, and a lot of the people that you meet spent too much time in the day being assholes, shits, and bastards. Hell, I’m not much better myself. But, if only to provide a bit of balance to the previous post here, we need to observe that the world also has some nice stuff going on, too.
Here is some of mine.
And the last few weeks the weather has been just incredible, so good that if one had the ability to do so, the perfect plan would be to hibernate through the cold bitter ice and snow of winter, and do the same through the humid nights and heavy rain of the monsoon summer, and thus experience nothing else but the pristine clean breezes of Spring and Autumn. Imagine such a thing, such a life that would be, to be able to ignore all the extreme ends of the weather cycle and live perpetually in only the most beautiful and comfortable weeks of the year. Obviously, if we could do that, we would scarcely appreciate how wonderful and will really remarkable these days are.
(Koreans are sometimes heard to say that their country has four distinct seasons, as though it were something that is unique and not common to every part of the world that lies in the temperate zone. Whatever the case, what needs to be stressed, and stressed a bit more, is that two of the four seasons suck, and the two that are wonderful are way way too short.)
My cat, Kwenchana Obama, continues to amaze all around with her astounding awesomeness. She’s got a pretty easy job. All she has to do is sit around the apartment and look cute all day, but she does this extremely well.
I have the means, motive and opportunity to make freshly-ground hand-drip coffee for myself every day of the week. I use fresh cream, and real sugar, and I’ve learned how to make the brew come out stronger or weaker depending on my mood at the moment. Despite the fact that Seoul at large and my neighborhood in particular have become overrun with cute cafes and franchise coffee dispensers, you will seldom find me sitting in one and paying good money to drink something not so delicious as I can make for myself in the comfort of my home.
Chocolate is delicious. So is GooGoo Star Cluster and GooGoo Star Vanilla Crispy ice cream.
Oh, wait. Here’s a music video. Click it now and you can listen while you finish reading.
Although it appears we will need to move to a different apartment in a few months, we won’t be wandering far from this neighborhood, where I’m going comfortable over the last 4 years. I had had some anxiety that we need a fresh part of town that would be more affordable and more conducive to the teaching business I’m engaged in – but I like this part of town for a great many reasons, and it appears my wife says does well. So we’ve both decided we prefer happiness to (potentially) greater prosperity, one more indication that we are well suited to each other.
When I first came to this city, there was only a single spot in the whole teeming metropolis that served what it pleased itself to call Mexican food, and nobody really liked it. Sadly, the situation continued this way for years, but then, things got better. That crappy place is gone and things are different now. In fact, just in the rather compact hub around Hongdae / Shinchon, I can name 7 or 8 without trying hard, and that doesn’t even include Taco Bell. In fact, there are enough Mexican places scattered around the city that we can all enjoy our time spent comparing them and persuading each other about which one is best.
My personal fave at the moment is Gusto Taco, and I’ve been a pretty happy fella since Aaron Allen, the maestro and mastermind of the place, opened a second location just up the stairs from Sangsu Station. He’s got room now for a little over 50 people to sit down at the same time, so I’m not worried if a bunch more of you decide to head over there after reading this.
The number of menu items has expanded a bit, and now they have nachos, available in cheese, Pollo Asada and Chipotle pork. The nachos are the priciest thing here, but I saw a table of three chow down on a plate of them without anything else on the table, so the quantity would seem to be adequate.
And they now have 7 varieties of tacos. In addition to the two types of meat already mentioned above, and the Carne Asada which has been on their menu from before, they’ve added another vegetarian option, tofu – these 5 choices also applied to the quesadillas and burritos – and while they had previously offered a fish taco, the seafood options have been split now into shrimp and Grilled Tilapia. (Shrimp tacos were not available the last few times I was there, and Mr Allen told me he wasn’t happy with the quality of the prawns he was receiving.)
I’ve never had a fish taco anywhere before, and I’ve just recently tried them at Gusto, but I like them. It strikes me that if anyone is an aficionado of this particular thing, they might not find it anywhere else in this city. The photo on the right illustrates what you get when you ask for one.
The tortillas, by the way, are hand-made, fresh every day. He uses a somewhat coarse mixture, so that the resulting package remains quite firm in your hand – don’t worry, though, sauces will still drip out and cause a mess, which is just how a taco ought to behave.
They had not offered any cocktails in the past but now you can get Margaritas and Pina Coladas. You’ll find San Miguel from the Philippines on draft – probably a bargain in this part of town for 4000 a glass – but every other kind of bottled beer in the cooler is from Mexico or some Central America country. I tried one from Guatemala I had never heard of before called Mariachi, and I won’t say I fell in love with it, but it had a rather interesting addition of lime and agave flavorings. I’m partial to the Dos Equis Amber myself.
I haven’t been paid a dime to write this, by the way, and I don’t plan on accepting any sort of consideration from Mr Allen or his staff. It’s just good food, and I like it a lot. While other people might have other favorite places, this one is mine and I wanted to let you know about it.
My wife had cancer, but now she doesn’t. It’s a wonderful time in history that I can write this, and perhaps the most remarkable thing about it is that it is not really all that remarkable anymore. A thyroid tumor turns out to be pretty easy to spot early, and it’s a simple procedure to extract it, compared to some other parts of the body. I won’t say there was never any anxiety for either of us – there was quite a bit, for both – but I felt pretty confident because both her sister and her niece had gone through the same thing. (I guess it runs in families, like Ms Jolie’s breast cancer gene.)
Yonsei Severance Hospital was the first place in this country where Western medicine was practiced, and they are still among the top hospitals in the country. (Henry Kissinger popped in a while ago when he came down with some digestive trouble while in Seoul for some kind of summit – I guess kimchi isn’t for everybody, eh?) Day after my wife underwent the procedure, I passed her surgeon in the lobby. “I’m so glad you put a knife in my wife’s throat,” I almost said. He was in a hurry, and so was I.
And when the whole thing was over, I closed my eyes, put hands together in front of me, and whispered, “Ah …. Thank Science!”
‘Breaking Bad’ might well be the best television show ever made: a complete story almost as complex as the 19th century Russian novel, envisioned to be realized over the course of five years, executed and delivered just that way. Much like Anthony Hopkins, I waited until the series was nearly complete before obtaining all 5 seasons from the pirate DVD dealer that I frequent, and I was able to watch the whole thing over the space of a couple of weeks during the early part of October. As I reached the end, my initial thought was ‘Damn, now what can I watch? Everything else will seem like so much crap in comparison . . .’
Last Tuesday was a holiday. For me, but not for you. I decided to schedule a day off to commemorate the birthday of Peter Green, a pretty awesome guitarist and one of the founding members of Fleetwood Mac. (Those are his licks you’ve been listing to, if you hadn’t caught on already.) Or else, our new holiday is in observance of the anniversary of Black Tuesday, the stock market crash of 1929 that was start of the Great Depression. Maybe we’ll call it Black and Green Day.
Point is, when you are self employed you can declare any day of the year a holiday if you want to – and that, my friends, another reason my life rocks.